Volume 75, Number 20 | October 05 - 11, 2005

Woman files lawsuit charging Pompei priest raped her

On Tuesday, Leslie Fray filed a lawsuit charging that Father Joseph Cogo, former head priest of Our Lady of Pompei Church on Carmine St. in Greenwich Village, “sexually assaulted, raped and harassed” her in 1977-’78 and 1982-’83. The case was filed in New York State Supreme Court and names as defendants Cogo, the Scalabrinian Brothers, Our Lady of Pompei Church and the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

Asked her thoughts on Tuesday after filing the lawsuit, Fray said, “I guess I’m hoping for justice.”

The Villager first reported Fray’s story on Sept. 21. Cogo and the Scalabrians, the religious order that runs Our Lady of Pompei, denied there was any rape. Following Fray’s complaints to the Scalabrians and archdiocese in the summer of 2004, however, Cogo was transferred to the Caracas, Venezuela, Our Lady of Pompei, which Cogo admits was in response to Fray’s accusations and was to get him “out of the scene.”

Father Joseph Fugolo, the Scalabrians’ superior, referred questions to Timothy O’Neill, their lawyer.

“We will defend it vigorously,” O’Neill said of the suit, noting they plan to check into Fray’s psychological history and background. He said the statute of limitations on such cases in New York expires in three years.

“Bringing a civil case 22 years after the event is absurd,” he said. “We’ll test the background of this woman. She was fully an adult, not a child — a 25-year-old graduate student from Yale.” To Fray’s claim that she only realized recently that what happened between her and Cogo constituted rape, he said it “stretches credibility.”

Lincoln Anderson

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